The Labor Department’s jobs report for April found that more than 4 of every 10 (43%) unemployed Americans were “long-term unemployed,” meaning they had been out of work and actively looking for 27 weeks or longer. That rate is comparable to the high levels seen in the years after the Great Recession.
Women are bearing substantial burdens from both long-term unemployment and the struggle to return to the workforce after being laid off or leaving their jobs to care for family members or home-school their kids. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, women’s labor-force participation has declined 1.7 percentage points during the pandemic to 56.1%, the lowest level since May 1987. Women’s employment has fallen by 5.2 percentage points since March 2020, compared to a 4.8 percentage point decline for men.
Getting women back to work will require a lot of pieces to fall into place — from fully open schools, preschools and day cares to the right kinds of employers and jobs.